When life is extraordinarily busy, there’s nothing more pleasurable than having a day unfold without an alarm, without a rush out the door and some time to tidy up the house – to be able to just sit and relax a while. Somehow, even if there’s a few things that must be done and a place or two later in the day that has to be gone to, starting a day like this is pretty remarkable. Continue reading “Finding Time for Appreciation”
Fourteen Years Gone
My father passed away fourteen years ago today, and it strikes me that he has now been gone more than a quarter of my life. Something about that is beyond bizarre to me, and yet his influence is felt every single day. I feel him in my attitude, the way I talk, and the manner in which I approach life itself.
So much has happened since he died – so many things I wish I could tell him. He wouldn’t say much in response. Never a big conversationalist, he would most likely nod or smile, or scowl dependent on the subject matter. He could get exasperated pretty easy, but I like to think he would have mellowed a bit more with age.
My mother always says that my father would never have survived in these times. He’d find them too upsetting, the world too crazy. I don’t know – he was pretty realistic. As an engineer, he looked at life strategically and was a straight shooter in his response to what life handed him. Or maybe she just knew him so much better than me and perhaps his failing health was in response to the world around him and his internal strife in viewing it.
Maybe I just idealize the man that has always meant the most to me. Continue reading “Fourteen Years Gone”
Outnumbered: Five to One
I often arrive home from work and realize that I’ve spent a good half hour dealing with pet-related necessities before even I’ve even given anything else a thought. Or stayed up extra late because I hadn’t been home much that day and felt that it hadn’t been fair to the dogs if I went to bed early since they had been cooped up in their crates most of the day (although truth be told, they aren’t exactly doing much of anything more exciting when they aren’t in them most of the time). And I greet them far more pleasantly each morning than I’ve ever greeted any mammal of the human variety. If any of this sounds familiar to you, then you are most certainly a pet owner.
As I was getting ready to settle back down on the couch one night recently, after finally putting dinner in the oven, thinking I’d do a little writing – and maybe about the animals I live with and the shenanigans we encounter together – I walked across the living room and stepped in something wet. I was hoping it was cold wet, as in perhaps some snow came back in the house with one of the dogs, but quickly realized it was warm wet. Warm, never a good sign, and now my deliciously comfortable, fleeced-lined trouser sock was also warmer and yes, wet. With a sigh, I peeled it off, took a quick whiff to confirm what I already knew to be true and shook my head in disgust, for about the millionth time this past year while I broke out the floor cleaner and then the Wet-Jet. Continue reading “Outnumbered: Five to One”
The Peacefulness of Gently Falling Snow
We’ve had a lot of snow lately. That’s a bit of an understatement really. We’ve had more than a lot of snow in the past week or so – and it’s snowing out now. I looked outside a while ago and thought, “Hmm, is it snowing or simply wind blowing it off the roof?” Within a few minutes, the gentle flakes had escalated to a greater flow from above and it’s snowing in earnest now.
Perhaps because I’m not greatly disadvantaged by the snow – no shoveling really (thank god for strong sons, even with just one at home still, and the kindness of a neighbor with a snowblower), the ability to work from home in inclement weather and a warm home – I don’t mind it. I live in New Hampshire and I expect it to snow. It’s when it doesn’t that it doesn’t feel right. Continue reading “The Peacefulness of Gently Falling Snow”
Nailing the Back-up Move
I’m sometimes of the misguided impression that I have some decent skills in backing my car up. Now that I have a smaller vehicle and feel somewhat smug at times in my ability to parallel park in tight city spots, I believe that this translates into being able to back up straight or adequately gauge space constraints. All of this is quickly laid to rest in one simple trip within my own small town, to our solid waste facility and recycling center (a.k.a. the town dump).
While I don’t often travel there these days, blessed instead with a series of sons who have taken over that task, there are times when it’s far more efficient to use two vehicles. This time of year is one of them, because like every other household in town, we accumulated a ton of trash due to the holidays, from wrapping paper remnants to lots of empty beverage bottles. ‘Tis the season for long lines at the dump, and having to plan out a solid chunk of time to make multiple trips, as my youngest son learned this past weekend. Offering up my vehicle as well this weekend, he plied the interior to capacity with cardboard and empty boxes, all of which have their own large window in the waste building, and loaded up the trunk with trash bags, which go into yet another window.
Undecking the Halls
Many feel a distinct sadness when Christmas ends and it’s time to start storing away the holiday decorations for yet another year. I don’t.
Christmas, as much as I love it, begins to feel like much too much – and I love the tradition, the beautiful Christmas tree and decorations, and most of all, the special time with my family and my friends. But suddenly, I’m ready, and I welcome clearing the shelves, the tabletops, the windows; you name it, I may have put a holiday decoration there. I’m ready to pare it all down and return to simpler space.
There’s a Japanese red maple tree in my side yard, massive in stature, its normally vibrant, deep red leaves darkened by autumn to a rich purplish-black hue. The tree came to us as a sapling – a gift to my oldest son when he was just a young boy, by a beloved grandfather who would one day betray the grandson he adored.
The tree has weathered much; New Hampshire nor’easters are never a gentle thing, yet the tree persevered and continue to grow no matter what kind of battering came its way. Over the years, it’s not only grown, but flourished, and then a couple of years ago, a particularly treacherous storm almost split the tree in half. We lost about a third of its branches and a piece of its trunk, and I wasn’t sure if it would survive.
To Just Be for a While
I was away overnight, involved much in the way of team building, active listening and discussion over the course of two days. Although it was thought provoking and enjoyable, the simple fact was that I was with a ton of people for an extended period of time and I found myself seeking out a quiet spot by lunchtime on the second day. It was a bit cooler out than the day before, graying skies and dampness in the air, and yet I sought the outdoors and targeted not the community tables where others enjoyed their lunch outside, but rather a deserted gazebo, directly on the water at the end of a short dock.
That Crooked Little Finger
It was his pinkie finger that took my breath away. I literally gasped when I saw it. The man himself was fairly nondescript, on TV talking about something—I have no idea what—wearing a billed cap and casual outdoorsy clothes. He was a middle-aged man that I noticed out of the corner of my eye while tidying up my living room. For some reason, the peripheral scene suddenly captured my full focus for a second or two—and then I gasped as his hand came into view.
There was his littlest finger, different from the rest; not just smaller, but crooked, bent at the knuckle joint midway, frozen in its misshapen stance. He couldn’t straighten it if he tried—I know that, because I tried to straighten my father’s pinkie countless times throughout my childhood, convinced that if I just pushed down on it gently enough or maybe this time, firm enough, I could make that finger straight again. It fascinated me.
A Universal Challenge: What If?
I know a lot of people who do good things in their work, and intentionally so. They choose the organization they work for solely based on the mission and I find that admirable. I wonder though, what are they doing beyond that in the rest of their lives for others? Please know, I don’t ask that question in judgment, but rather in curiosity.
You see, I think when we choose what we perceive to be an honorable line of work in an organization of which we truly admire the mission, we don’t just aspire to work there because of what it does; it’s a real benefit to us as well. We get to work somewhere that we can believe in and we are no doubt proud of ourselves on some level for making that choice. It’s kind of a win-win all around. We get to do good and feel good about it. But is it enough? Continue reading “A Universal Challenge: What If?”
Open to the Possibilities
The new year is off and running, and I suspect at a faster speed than I am thus far. In spite of some of my best intentions with nearly two weeks off, far less was accomplished than I had hoped for and mostly because I ended up sick and with two additional days off from work as a result. At least I think I had two additional days off, but they passed in mostly sleep-induced blurs—I know there was a huge snowstorm and I even made a brief call-in for a meeting, but the rest seems far removed from any conscious activity. So here I am, four days into January, four doses of antibiotic in my body and starting to feel almost human once again. Almost.
I’m revving up for what I know will be a busy week ahead. You can’t be out of the office, even during the holiday season, for two weeks and not have a whirlwind of activity just waiting for you to step back into—and we have a new baby heading our way within the next two weeks, too. Everyone’s been sick in the family, including the mom-to-be, and my plan is to jump back into work, have everything ready to lend support to the new family in whatever way they need, and off we’ll go. . . Continue reading “Open to the Possibilities”
A Not-So-Chance Encounter
There’s seldom a time when I am not aware of the blessings I have, and never more so than during the holiday season when the abundance of my own life seems overflowing in comparison to what so many others are experiencing.
Today was one of reflection as I started the day in a somber mood, remembering a dear friend who passed away unexpectedly seven years ago this very day. I had much to do early in the day, working on an end-of-term final paper and figuring out where I stood with my holiday preparations before heading off to Barnes & Noble to engage in volunteer gift-wrapping to benefit a nonprofit transitional housing program. In thinking about the day, I felt good to be doing something for others and at a place that my friend loved so much, too. It was the type of activity that she and I might have done together and most likely would have done many times over the years had she been here to still participate. Continue reading “A Not-So-Chance Encounter”